|Practicing Strategic Innovation
I think we can all agree that "innovation" is, in some sense, important to all commercial enterprises - indeed perhaps to all enterprises. In a November 1995 article (yes, it's still relevant) Bob Krinsky and Dan Kamas, then with IdeaScope Associates, postulated that "the key factor that separates successful companies from mediocre performers is the extent to which these organizations have a disciplined approach to the practice of innovation and identification of new business opportunities". In other words, "successful companies are those that are dedicated to the practice and implementation of strategic innovation, the type of approach that yields quantum leaps into new markets, not incremental steps within existing industries".
Krinsky and Kamas go on to point out that strategic innovation is the process of creating new industries, opening new markets, and inventing new categories. They test your organization's commitment to strategic innovation with a series of questions reproduced here in six broad categories:
- How sophisticated is management's understanding of its markets and industry?
- Do the key players possess an in-depth understanding of what their future will look like; not only in the 3-5 year time frame, but 5-10 years into the future?
- Does management share a corporate strategic vision that is compelling and competitively distinctive?
- How creative is your understanding of your customers?
- Do you develop products and services around the articulated and unarticulated needs of customers?
- Is the notion of "customer intimacy" built into all aspects of product development, R&D and marketing?
An Enabling Process
- Is there a process in place to enable the organization to successfully practice strategic innovation?
- Does your company commit dedicated resources to the practice of strategic innovation?
- Is the culture of your organization directed toward the future?
- Do managers think aggressively about how to build and embrace capabilities that they don't currently possess?
- Does your organization support innovation at all levels of the organization?
- Do managers aggressively challenge assumptions and boundaries of their current business?
Growth-Motivated Senior Management
- Is your organization decentralized such that all senior managers are actively involved in the pursuit of strategic innovation and new business opportunities?
- Do the careers of senior management show a history of strategic innovation and growth rather than paths of cost-cutting and restructuring?
- Does your company have a proven ability to reinvent itself to meet the changing demands of markets and customers?
- What percentage of current revenues are driven by products or services less than five years old?
- Does your company have an explicit goal of achieving a specified percentage of future revenue growth from product lines that don't yet exist?
Food for thought, don't you think? Perhaps you can nudge your company in a more favorable direction. If not, perhaps you should try another company!